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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

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The island

21 minutes

The island where 50 million crabs roam free and refugees are trapped in limbo

Located in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Australia and south of Indonesia, the Australian territory of Christmas Island is the arrival point for thousands of asylum seekers held in indefinite detention. Most of the island, however, is a protected national park, famous for its 50 million red crabs and their migration from the jungle to the sea. The Island follows Poh Lin Lee, a trauma counsellor who uses ‘sand tray therapy’ or ‘sand play’ to explore detainees’ personal and diverse stories of hardship, and helps them cope with the difficulties of life in detention. Despite her best efforts, Lee sees her patients – largely powerless, frequently mistreated and with little hope of freedom in sight – faring worse over time due to the anguish of living in limbo. Juxtaposing the spectacle of innumerable migrating crabs with the plight of the trapped detainees, this poignant short documentary probes the breadth, chaos and frequent cruelty of today’s migrant and refugee crises with an urgent humanity.

Director: Gabrielle Brady

Producer: Alex Kelly

Website: Guardian Documentaries

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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